Fitting In Fuego



This summer tour felt very much about integrating the band’s new material into their live show. Having debuted all but one of the songs in a single set lasst Halloween, Phish played seven of their new pieces over the New Year’s Run, but their roles were totally unknown going into this summer. And after twenty-two shows, the guys have sorted most things out, with only a couple selections whose placement remain elusive. Let’s look at a track-by-track analysis of how Phish has worked their newest batch of songs into their summer performances.

“Fuego”—After much speculation, “Fuego” was the only true jam vehicle that developed from Phish’s newest album. Though the song spawned three of tour’s most significant highlights with its SPAC, Mann and Portsmouth outings, “Fuego,” was still hard to pin down, as it was played far more times without a jam than with one. Perhaps this was due to the band’s “Everyone Gets a ‘Fuego’ (Except Pelham)” policy,  and they decided that it would be overkill to improvise from the song at every tour stop. Perhaps they didn’t even think this deeply about the issue at all. But when the promotional dust settles on Fall Tour and “Fuego” slides back into regular rotation, I bet we see it extend into a jam more regularly. The band has already proven how prolific a springboard it can be, as they crafted three twenty-minute excursions from the title track, all plunging different musical depths. One commonality between all three jams, however, was the group-wide patience that allowed the guys to collectively explore and discover some awesome spaces. Between SPAC’s unforgettable peak, the Mann’s bliss-turned-funk theatrics and Portsmouth’s clav-laced groove workout, “Fuego” has certainly proved its value quickly this summer. And we have only begun to see what this piece has in store. (Check out Philly’s version here.)

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Chicago (G.Lucas)

Chicago (Graham Lucas)

“The Line”—Despite placing “The Line” just about everywhere in their show this summer, Phish still hasn’t found a routine use for this song. The two most common placements have been in the middle of the second set as an interlude between lager improvisations, and as a standard first set song. I can’t say it has totally failed in its second set role, but its natural place in a show seems to lean towards the first. “The Line” appeared nine times this summer, trailing only “555” and “Fuego.”

“Devotion to a Dream”—This upbeat tune was used solely as a first set song this summer and that seems just right. Phish paired “Devotion” with “Wolfman’s Brother” on three of its last four outings of summer, using the two songs as a stylistic juxtaposition within the opening half of shows. I foresee more of the same for “Devotion,” as its structure and vibe don’t lend themselves to the second set.

“Halfway to the Moon”—Unfortunately, I have nothing of interest to report on “Halfway to the Moon.” The band has kept the song harnessed to the first set and has showed no interest in opening up what could be a promising jam vehicle. As previously noted before tour, Mike’s and Page’s songs don’t usually get jams in this era, and the trend continues with this number.

“Winterqueen”—Phish seamlessly integrated “Winterqueen” into their repertoire during SPAC’s opening show as a second set landing pad for the sequence of “Bathtub Gin > Limb by Limb.” “Winterqueen” was also used in this vein following Chicago’s “Down with Disease,” as it appeared in set two on three of five occasions this summer. Its most improvised version, however, came in Charlotte’s first set when Phish pushed the piece beyond its traditional contour for the only time of tour. This song translated incredibly well this summer and brought us “Fuego’s” most pleasant surprise. (Check out Charlotte’s version here.)

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7.16/14 (J.Herzog)

7.16/14 (J.Herzog)

“Sing Monica”—Another one of summer’s surprise developments was the emergence of “Monica” as a late-second set rock breather in smoking stanzas of music. Trey called for the song in both Randall’s iconic final set and Merriweather’s opening, jam-heavy performance. “Monica” also appeared in a SPAC encore before “Tweeprise” in much the same vein. But after Merriweather the song disappeared—perhaps because Trey didn’t feel another set of tour was hot enough to warrant the kickdown? Maybe that’s where this song has settled, and who’d have thunk it?

“555”—When Mike’s newest song opened up Charlotte’s second set, the potential of a jam loomed momentarily in the air. But it wasn’t to be, as the song simply kicked off the set before a long-form “Chalk Dust.” Every other appearance of “555” came in the opening set of shows, and that certainly seems to be where Trey likes the song the most. This one could get dirty if they opened it up, but as predicted before tour, it doesn’t seem like that will happen. “555” was performed 11 times in 22 shows, trailing only “Fuego” (12).

“Waiting All Night”—This was another song that slid into rotation with ease, as the band used it effectively as both a second set cool down and a first set single. Interestingly, the band paired “Waiting All Night” with “Reba” on three occasions this Summer, twice being placed poignantly after the revitalized classic. Mike’s bass lines give this one a smooth and groove-based feel in the live setting, and Trey seems to like playing the song quite a bit, as he called for it eight times this summer.

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

“Wombat”—“Wombat” was just getting loose when Phish shelved it for the tour. In Canandaigua’s first set, the band stretched out the funk number into its most significant incarnation to that point in tour. And then days later they blew it wide open on the first night of Chicago, taking the jam out of the groove realm and into the spiritual and wide open. Phish fully broke through with Chicago’s “Wombat” jam, and then we never heard from the song again. As we left it, however, the jam was just growing legs—and that is an excellent sign for the future. (Check out Chicago’s version here.)

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“Wingsuit”—“Wingsuit” found a couple effective slots in shows this summer, most significantly used as a landing pad for improvised, second set passages. Beginning in Randall’s middle performance, the band opened up the end of the song into a “Curtain With”-esque jam, and it became all the more worthy of its second set employment. “Wingsuit” truly came into its own this summer, featuring massive, emotionally-laced crescendos and serving as a powerful infusion of psych rock into the live show. Phish also used “Wingsuit” as a first set closer a couple times this summer, a slot that also felt fitting for the dramatic piece. One place it didn’t work so great, however, was as a mid-first set song, as it seemed a bit too slow as shows were building momentum. (Check out Randall’s version here.)

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Alpharetta (Chris LaJaunie)

Alpharetta (Chris LaJaunie)

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625 Responses to “Fitting In Fuego”

  1. RoosterPizza Says:

    I have an essential oil regimen lined up for my pooch— that’s the best I can come up with besides the $7,000. treatment that will prolong his life by three-to-five months.

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    ^ nice recap C. Well put.

    -Tonbruket. Gonna check em Tela’s. Thanks.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    The path you’re heading down is one of the hardest ones there is man, dealing with suffering and loss. Especially with kids involved. So sorry you and your family have to go through this. Everything real that happens is a lesson for the kids whether you want it to be or not so I guess that’s just another reason to be compassionate and clear-eyed/honest about the whole thing, not that you need a reason to do what’s right

  4. DryIceFactory Says:

    Hate to say it but I totally called that Chicago Wombat kickdown. Calling an absolute blowout version at Dick’s.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    Would like to add Ole by Coltrane to that list.. easy to add a ton more but that first track is an immediate win over.

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    Isle of Wight !

    …Vibes sent to the dog troubles man.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah the hard part is def. keeping the list from sprawling to the point of uselessness

    digging this Art Ensemble Theme de Yoyo

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Word C. The long sax solo gets kinda frenetic, but that groove is so killer, and those single measure Free freakouts win every time. Love her vocals, same lady that sang the soul hit ‘Band of Gold’.

    Lotsa 90’s Ninja Tune heads known that one cause Cinematic Orchestra covers it.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    saxes on this track are srsbzns

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    Been looking for this album I used to love by ‘James Blood Ulmer with the Art Ensemble’ called Funky Donkey.
    Free Funk. Major James Brown breakbeats but somehow jazz loose. And a huge horn section just blaring it out.

  11. Gumbomaniac Says:

    I originally came to this site for the extensive discussion on Phish (of course). After seeing so much discussion swirling about on jazz it’s started to make me hungry for it again.

    To be honest, I’m kind of getting burnt out on Phish for the moment. I still love it, don’t get me wrong, but I find that there’s not as much mystery to the band anymore (not as much to discover). I’m glad they’re having the time of their lives though.

    I think that is what drew me into listening to Phish in the first place. So much could be happening melodically over a sick groove. The intensity and energy has been lacking from their music this summer. However, they seem to be jamming the way they are intentionally not because they can’t anymore.

    Sorry for the rambling.

    PS Spotify commercials killin’ the jazz.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    @gumbo, I cycle in and out of everything I love. The key is to love lots of things so when you burn out on one you have something to slip over to that fits your mood. I’ve been listening to jazz semi seriously on and off for almost exactly as long as I’ve been listening to Phish and by letting them come and go from my focus I’m still interested in both and have lots to learn about both…

  13. RoosterPizza Says:

    Thanks for the kind words guys. I’m fucking struggling.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    Also just remembered this total jem:
    Bombay Connection, Vol. 1: Funk From Bollywood Action Thrillers Soundtrack

    Haven’t gone searching for a link yet, got this one on Wax. But wow it is the shizznit.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    Always thought deep Phishies just listened to Phish (and some do). Was amped to find this place, and have had my musical horizon deeply broadened here (Phish included). Discussions here place Phish in the Pantheon of great music. Which I love. Integral and credible. Not in its own island.

    -loved when Miner jumped on the Miles train and was sharing thoughts.

  16. Gumbomaniac Says:

    @C true dat. I have a tendency to wear out a good thing. I’m just glad I have good things to wear out. I began playing guitar when I was 15. When I got good enough to figure out how incredibly talented Trey was at guitar I began to listen to Phish more seriously. Almost as a study in music. Maybe that’s why I tend to appreciate the shreddy Type I stuff from 95 the most. Very Jazzcentric taboot. If I had to describe summer ’14 in a word, it probably wouldn’t be jazzy.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Hate to say it but I totally called that Chicago Wombat kickdown. Calling an absolute blowout version at Dick’s.

    hate to say it but you also called for a big Ghost in Orange Beach 😉

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    Everyone’s interests overlap venn diagram wise. Phish is the one thing we all have in common here. The rest of my graph is mostly bluegrass, jazz, african, GD/JGB, soul/funk, and Unclassifiable Weirdness among others…other peeps are much heavier into reggae, or prog rock, or modern post-rock stuff, or a dozen other things…it makes for a pretty interesting conversation and since Phish music is such a heady hybrid of other things it definitely informs the basic ongoing conversation on that topic

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    Finally got to roll the Dave’s Pick filler OKC Playin’ at max vol & proper headspace last night. Talk about fitting in with the pantheon of alltime greats! Really a pleasure to hear the remaster. A relentless assault.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Darn good post Gumbomaniac, regarding recent Phish. Excellent, balanced summary. Yep, they are clearly happy, (or incredibly good at faking it)! And yes, the more I listen to recent highlights, the less I enjoy them, which is the opposite of my normal experience. Lack of intensity and energy in jams is a great summary. Lack of lead would be another.

    Spinning some 11/29/98 Simple, cuz, I miss the guitar part in the jams.

  21. tzara's Says:

    Here’s some jazz, concentrating on small group, “straight ahead” style. Bop and post-bop classics:
    Charlie Parker: Best of Dial Sessions, or Savoy Sessions
    Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus–greatest sax record evah.
    Miles Davis: ESP and Miles Smiles
    Bill Evans: Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Waltz for Debby
    Art Blakey: Live at the Café Bohemia, Free for All
    Grant Green: Idle Moments
    Thelonious Monk: Genius of Modern Music–Blue Note
    John Coltrane: Giant Steps, Coltrane’s Sound
    Clifford Brown/Max Roach Quintet w/ Sonny Rollins. Or without.
    Charlie Mingus: Live at Antibes, Mingus Ah Um

    One step out, but not Spacecamp:
    Ornette Coleman: Shape of Jazz to Come, Change of the Century
    Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch
    Andrew Hill: Point of Departure
    Bobby Hutcherson: Dialogue

  22. tzara's Says:

    How’s everybody doing?

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    Mingus Ah Um is so great

    pretty good man!

    …got my Eugene floor extra?!??

  24. tzara's Says:

    Ha, no old home meetup in Eugene for me sadly. They picked the absolute worst week to come our way. Why didn’t they consult my harvest schedule before coming?

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    you are not the only person with that issue to say the least @tzara’s!

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